Powerful medicine

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As a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the professional health and fitness community, I’m committed to encouraging physical activity for the health benefits it brings all people. As we prepare to observe the inaugural Exercise is Medicine Month in May, the case is compelling:

Exercise and physical activity are powerful medicine indeed, helping prevent or treat numerous chronic conditions such as hypertension, cardiac disease, and diabetes.

Research shows significant health benefits for those who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

A recent survey by ACSM reveals that, while four out of 10 physicians (41 percent) talk to their patients about the importance of exercise, they don’t always offer suggestions on the best ways to be physically active.

According to the same survey, nearly two-thirds of patients (65 percent) would be more interested in exercising to stay healthy if advised by their doctor and given additional resources.

If there were a drug that could so powerfully fight America’s obesity epidemic and the health implications it brings, surely every physician would be eager to prescribe it.

This is the impetus behind Exercise is Medicine, a program of ACSM supported by the American Medical Association. One objective is to encourage physicians to “prescribe” exercise during patient visits. Able patients are advised to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity and 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week.

Let’s observe Exercise is Medicine Month by taking these important steps:

Physicians, please talk with every patient about exercise and, as appropriate, refer them to a health fitness professional. Counseling them on the benefits of physical activity and what it can do for their long-term health and well-being is critical and should be a standard part of your practice.

Patients, ask a few questions about your health status the next time you visit your doctor. Are you at a healthy weight? Taking your current health status into consideration, what types of exercise are best and safest for you? Is there a certified trainer or registered dietician you should visit to improve your health?

Parents, give your children the gift of lifelong wellness by being a role model and supporting them in establishing a habit of lifelong physical activity. Have fun being active as a family.

To learn more about Exercise is Medicine, please visit www.exerciseismedicine.org. Let’s all enjoy a regular, healthy dose of exercise.

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